Not a single American citizen has been killed on United States soil by a member of a foreign terrorist organization since the attacks of September 11, 2001, which left more than 3,000 dead, and sparked the beginning of the country’s now two-decades-long and self-defeating “war on terror.”
Both President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump have credibly boasted they have been successful in keeping American citizens safe from attacks orchestrated and coordinated by foreign terrorist organizations.
The FBI concluded that the Saudi Air Force Lieutenant who murdered three US Navy sailors in Florida on December 6, 2019 was an active member of al Qaeda.
That is until now, however, with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) concluding last week that the 21-year-old Saudi Air Force Lieutenant Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani who murdered three US Navy sailors and injured eight others at a Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida on December 6, 2019 was an active member of al Qaeda.
“The evidence we’ve been able to develop from the killer’s devices shows that the Pensacola attack was actually the brutal culmination of years of planning and preparation by a long-time AQAP associate,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray on May 18, referring to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, one of the deadliest and most active franchises of the terror group.
The FBI came to this conclusion after successfully breaking through the encryption protecting the gunman’s iPhone. Wray described the planning as “meticulous,” while adding, “We now have a picture of him we didn’t have before we obtained this evidence.”
We have a clearer picture of how incoherent, inconsistent, and hypocritical the Trump administration’s discourse and policy has been in relation to “Islamic” terrorism.
What we also have now is a much clearer picture of just how incoherent, inconsistent, and hypocritical the Trump administration and the Republican Party’s discourse and policy has been in relation to the threat of “Islamic” terrorism, with the FBI’s revelation barely causing a ripple, headline, comment, or tweet from either the President or Republican lawmakers.
When four American diplomats were killed on a foreign battlefield in Libya at two US government facilities in 2012 by militants belonging to Ansar al-Sharia, the Republican Party spent the next four years talking about almost nothing else other than “Benghazi,” holding dozens of congressional hearings, interviewing more than 80 witnesses, costing taxpayers more than $7 million USD, and producing an 800-page document that ultimately cleared the target of their investigations – then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – of wrongdoing.
But when three Americans are killed at home during peacetime, marking the first successful al Qaeda attack on US soil since 9/11, both the White House and Senate Republicans remain conspicuously silent, and pretending as though the 2019 attack on the Naval Station in Pensacola never happened, which suggests the right cares only for American victims of international terrorism when their stories can be weaponized against their political opponents – the Democratic Party.
The Trump administration and Republican Party couldn’t be less interested in investigating how a radicalized Saudi national was able to enter the country alongside nearly 800 other Saudi military personnel on A-2 military training visa, which makes yet another mockery of their supposed effort to combat “Islamic” terrorism by banning Muslim migrants from specific Muslim majority countries, but excluding Saudi Arabia.
It’s no secret Saudi Arabia is one of Trump’s biggest benefactors.
It’s no secret Saudi Arabia is one of Trump’s biggest benefactors. Trump openly boasts about how much the Kingdom’s monarchs invest in his properties, and we know they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each month at his hotels and other properties. In return, Trump awards the Kingdom record arms deals, perpetuates its war in Yemen by blocking bipartisan bills to end US involvement in the five-year conflict, and helped cover up the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The Trump administration also made Saudi Arabia a notable exemption from the list of Muslim majority countries to have its citizens banned from entering the US. Notable because 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers were Saudi nationals, and that not a single US citizen was killed by a citizen from any of the listed countries in the United States during the period spanning 1975 to 2015.
The global human rights organization Amnesty International describes Trump’s Muslim ban as a “license to discriminate,” and one “disguised as a national security measure,” adding “it demonizes the vulnerable – those who have fled torturers, warlords and dictators – and those who simply want to be with their families.”
The Trump administration refuses to even acknowledge what has become a white nationalist domestic terrorism crisis.
Compounding the Trump administration’s double speak and hypocrisy on countering terrorism is the fact that it refuses to even acknowledge what has become a white nationalist domestic terrorism crisis, with right-wing groups and individuals responsible for every terrorist attack on US soil since the end of 2017, excluding, of course, the attack at the Naval station in Pensacola.
Earlier this year, Trump’s appointed FBI director even described right-wing terrorists as the “national threat priority,” but not only has the President denied the country faces a growing right-wing terror threat, he has also redirected resources from countering far-right, racism fuelled terrorism, while funnelling 85 percent of “countering violent extremism” grants awarded by Homeland Security to efforts that explicitly target Muslims and other minority groups.
Clearly, terrorism is only a matter of concern to Trump and the GOP if it threatens their political survival or could be used to threaten that of their direct political opponents, which serves as a further reminder of just how exaggerated and hyped the threat of “Islamic” terrorism was during the years a Republican didn’t occupy the White House.